Robust Asteroid Impact Mitigation by Viral Infection-Induced Exocytosis

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A. Ellery (2020), JBIS, 73, pp.334-348

Refcode: 2020.73.334
Keywords: Asteroid impact mitigation, Electromagnetic launchers, Self-replicating machines

We review many of the main techniques proposed for technological mitigation of any threat posed by a near-Earth asteroid. Most of these methods require substantial warning times, the deployment of potential weapons of mass destruction and/ or the launch of high mass assets to intercept the incoming asteroid. We present the idea that a self-replicating machine might pose an alternative solution in keeping the launch mass modest yet provide a mass amplification capability that could be exploited. We find that this is indeed the case, and that a 10 tonne self-replicating payload delivered to the surface of asteroid Bennu, a large asteroid of 0.5 km diameter, could consume the entire asteroid within 2.5 months or a 10 km diameter asteroid such as the KT impactor within 8.5 months (spanning over four orders of magnitude mass variation) imposing a very short warning time capability that grows only logarithmically with asteroid size.

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